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China mulls allowing second child for all couples

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Beijing: China, the world’s most populous country which once strictly followed the one-child norm, is now considering allowing a second child for all couples. People_in_Chinese_park_1

China could further relax its one-child policy to allow all couples across the country to have a second child, reported Global Times.

China currently has a population of 1.3 billion. India is close behind with a population of 1.2 billion.

In China, 29 provinces and municipalities have relaxed the one-child policy to allow couples to have a second baby if either parent is from a single-child family.

Online polls show that a majority of Chinese support the second-child policy, but analysts say they are concerned that young couples are showing less interest in having more children.

An anonymous researcher, who reportedly participated in a National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) survey, told China Business News that the second-child policy can be applied “as early as the end of 2015 if everything goes well”.

Lu Jiehua, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times that the NHFPC is likely to implement the revised policy in the near future but said “it’s unlikely that the policy could be fully implemented in 2015 … probably next year, or at the beginning of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan”.

“It’s not simply about implementing a second-child policy,” Lu was quoted as saying. “All relevant policies, regulations, formalities and facilities need to be in place to support (the second-child policy), and it takes time.”

Mu Guangzong, a professor at Peking University’s Institute of Population Research, told the Global Times that “relaxing the current policy meets public expectations”.

“The country needs to maintain a moderate fertility rate for a healthy and sustainable development, as the present fertility rate is low.”

China suffered a third consecutive annual drop in its workforce in 2014, 3.7 million less than the previous year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics in January.

(IANS)

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)